A retired NASA spacecraft is poised to hit the ground after almost 40 years in orbit.
NASA said in a statement on Saturday that there is very little probability that crashing satellite debris will endanger “anyone on Earth.”
According to NASA, some fragments of the 2,450kg (5,400lb) satellite should survive the re-entry burn, but the most will be destroyed.
The probability of being hurt by falling debris is estimated to be one in 9,400 by the US space agency. Approximately 18:40 EST (23:40 GMT) on Sunday night, give or take 17 hours, is when the US defense department anticipates the scientific satellite to land.
However, the California-based Aerospace Corporation has estimated that the satellite will re-enter the atmosphere Monday morning, US time, along a track that will pass over Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the westernmost regions of North and South America.
In 1984, the space shuttle Challenger launched the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite.
The satellite continued to measure ozone and other atmospheric variables despite having a two-year anticipated operating life. It was retired in 2005. The satellite observed how the planet’s surface radiated and absorbed solar radiation.
According to a statement from NASA, “ERBS far exceeded its expected two-year service life, operating until its retirement in 2005.”
“Its observations helped researchers measure the effects of human activities on Earth’s radiation balance,” NASA said.
When the satellite was launched 38 years ago from the Challenger, it received a unique send-off.
Sally Ride, a US astronaut and the first woman in space, used the robot arm of the shuttle to launch the satellite into orbit.
The first spacewalk by a US woman, Kathryn Sullivan, took place on the same mission. It was the first time two female astronauts flew in space together.